Marta Wanderlust is on an ever-evolving path of healing, self-love and finding unity with the universe. After her own transformational journey into the practice, Marta now teaches various forms of yoga, from yin to vinyasa, and also heals through spiritual methods such as meditation, reiki and chakra balancing.
With a passion for travel, Marta currently resides in Peru, but splits her time between India and the Americas, where she continues to follow her path towards her Higher Self. We talk to the healer and yoga teacher about her sometimes painful journey of self-love and self-care, and how meditation and yoga have lit the way back to love and the home within herself.
How did the practice of yoga help you in the journey from a place of 'darkness' to healing. What was that experience like for you?
Once upon a time, I was lying in bed, crying and wishing to die, because I couldn’t imagine continuing with the life I was living. It felt as is my spirit had been suffocated in the process. I will never forget the pain of that moment, landing face-first in my rock bottom.
Shortly after this experience, I got clean from substance abuse, and left for Bali. Checking into a yoga studio was one of the first things I did upon arriving in Ubud. It was totally intuitive, my body was guiding me back into the practice I fell in love with as a teen, but because of its deep spiritual nature, I abandoned yoga; I became inauthentic with myself and got hooked on the false promises of the “darkness”.
That month in Bali reignited my love for the practice. To feel the body move in all sorts of delicious ways, free and unrestricted, strong and healthy. To find moments of reprieve from the mind in between the breaths. To lose myself fully on the mat, only to realise I was actually home. I haven’t stopped practicing since, and that was six years ago.
Yoga has become a fundamental part of the path of my healing, and I am so thankful to all of my teachers, past and present, who helped me see my self-imposed limitations and helped me to shed the layers I was identifying with for years. The journey of my spiritual unfolding began to arise from what I was experiencing through my body, on the yoga mat. And then I discovered the ancient Yogic texts like the Yoga Sutras, and started to glue all the pieces together. Today, I cannot imagine moving through life without my sadhana, which over the last couple of years has become far less asana-oriented and much more rooted in my subtle and emotional bodies.
In the last few years, I have also been actively healing and learning through the various plant medicines, which have offered me a whole new way of realigning and coming into my full potential. I am constantly blown away by how incredibly correlative the ancient shamanic practices are with the Yogic wisdom. The journey from “darkness” to healing feels to be a lifelong project, with onion-like layers of old wounds slowly falling off.
What I have learnt is that patience, acceptance and forgiveness are key in fully returning to my essence. In the words of Matt Kahn - in a universe of endless questions, love is the only answer.
How can yoga help heal our relationship with our physical bodies?
Yoga is a beautiful integrative practice that allows us to truly heal and align all three facets of our being - the mind, body and spirit. Sadly in our culture we are conditioned to see what’s “wrong” with our bodies, with so many of us suffering from unhealthy eating patterns or negative body image, while the media keeps bombarding us with imposed standards of artificial beauty.
Yoga is a powerful tool in understanding the signals our bodies are giving us, and a profound way of tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the soothing ‘rest and digest’ cycle. As we breathe and move, the mind relaxes, offering us a reprieve from the constant narrative. And once the mind has settled, we can tap into our inner silence, our essence, the unbound consciousness. To me, those moments of true quietness on the mat or in the meditation practice, offer freedom from the ego-identification, an invitation to remember my true nature, away from the attachment to the body. Recognising that offers an opportunity to begin seeing the body as a vessel, a temple in which we reside in this lifetime. How can when hate and mistreat that which is our very home?
Another facet of healing happens through the changes experienced in the physical body thanks to a regular sustained practice. Seeing yourself suddenly get into asanas you once deemed impossible, noticing how you have become increasingly more flexible and strong can heal the negative self-talk of what your body is, what it ought to be - the constant compare and despair. The body itself orchestrates this process, inviting us into its own deeper layers. The more patient and gentle we can be in this journey, the bigger the transformation.
How does meditation aid us in healing the relationship we have with ourselves?
I guess that depends on how and why we meditate. Meditation can be a powerful healing tool, but focusing too much on transcending and ascending, before we’ve done any deeper work with our first three chakras (and the issues of stability, security, trauma, fear, anger etc.) can also become an unfortunate platform for spiritual bypassing.
I am a strong believer in healing through learning how to be in our bodies again. I love the Somatic Meditation practices as found in the more esoteric traditions of Mahayana Buddhism, as they provide ways and methods to arrive at a self-understanding, and create healthy patterns in all aspects of our lives. Allowing us to move away from the constant mind-narratives, to become rooted in our bodies, in our actual life.
In the words of a wonderful teacher, Reginald Ray, “we find that, ultimately, our body in everything that it is, is an expression of the sacredness of the universe, perfect and free. This understanding is not theoretical, it is a matter of our own direct, fully embodied, personal experience.” In this way, the meditation can serve as a doorway to freedom from the mind’s constant dissatisfaction with who and how we are.
What three tips can you offer us to help practice self-care and self love on a daily basis?
What works for me is setting aside some quiet time each day. Depending on my schedule this may vary from an hour spent with a book, a walk in nature, moments of journaling or simply sitting quietly with some burning sage for a few minutes.
To me self love doesn’t mean standing in front of a mirror and affirming out loud how great / beautiful / successful I am, but actually taking time out to tend to my needs. Seeing myself with honesty, loving even those parts that feel hard to love, and caring for me as if I was looking after a dear friend. Some days that means a long practice, others a good meal and sofa time.
Self-care to me is also NOT doing things that don’t feel aligned with my integrity, that don’t serve my highest purpose. I’ve learnt through my own experience that if something doesn’t feel quite right, isn’t fully aligned with my highest potential, then it’s not worth investing my energy because it will eventually cause me pain.
That applies to the choices I make professionally, but also on the personal level, in relationships, ways I spend my time. I stay away from places, people and things that don’t feel reflective of the frequency I want to cultivate in my life. Media news, gossip, listening to people complain, having work that requires me to turn a blind eye in exchange for a good pay - they are not in line with my understanding of self-care. A place where I am not fully honest with myself will eventually start fermenting inside of me. Not much growth can come from that.
I try to truly tune into my self, stay receptive, and give myself what I need in each moment. Which varies day to day, and that’s why I feel there isn’t such thing as “tips” on this very personal journey of coming home to ourselves. But if I was to try and narrow it down to three suggestions, I would tell you to take time out to be by yourself, spend at least a few minutes each day doing something that truly inspires you, and take care of your body by fuelling it with wholesome nourishing foods. And be honest with yourself. That’s where the journey truly begins.
Marta wears Starseeds Reach Cut Out Leggings and Duo Stretch-Bamboo Tank throughout.
Interview by Jessica Duffin
Photography by Pablo Tsukayama